2023 Diamondbacks: 3 players likely to have a breakout season

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

What is a breakout season, you may be asking.  Well, every year, MLB teams across the board have at least one player that goes above and beyond what their expectations were for the season; this is the definition of a breakout season.  For the Diamondbacks a season ago, it was Christian Walker and Zac Gallen.  The question is, who will it be in 2023?  Here are 3 worthy candidates.

Diamondbacks IF Josh Rojas

As D-backs fans know, Josh Rojas is a fun player to watch.  He is a guy that is versatile in the field, having the ability to play third and second base.  He’s a guy that can bat in just about any spot in the lineup.  He is a guy that can steal bases with his blazing speed, and most importantly, he is a guy that is patient at the plate and knows how to make opposing pitchers really work to get him out. 

Over the past two seasons, Rojas has walked in 11% of his plate appearances, averaged 4.1 pitches per plate appearance, and has an average OPS of .746.  As I said, he is good at working opposing pitchers, and he has developed into one of the more selective hitters in baseball.  Rojas also hits well when it really matters.  In 2022, Rojas batted .295 with runners in scoring position, knocking in 41 runs in 122 plate appearances.

It is expected that Josh Rojas and Evan Longoria will do a platoon split, where Longoria starts when a lefty is on the mound and Rojas starts with a righty on the mound.  If this happens, look for Rojas to have a big year.  Rojas had an OBP of .354 against righties and a .333 OBP against lefties a season ago.  Big things are coming for Rojas in 2023.  I predict he will finish the year with an OBP over .360…

Diamondbacks SS Geraldo Perdomo

No doubt, Nick Ahmed is the Diamondbacks starting shortstop, but that doesn’t mean Perdomo can’t break out this season.  To be honest, Perdomo has had a rough start to his career.  In 159 career games, he has a .564 OPS.  But maybe this past spring training could be an indication of what is to come for Geraldo.

In 52 plate appearances this spring, Perdomo walked 21% of the time (11 walks), got on base 43% of the time, and racked up 5 RBIs.  These numbers indicate that Perdomo might be learning a thing or two from his buddy Josh Rojas.  Like Rojas, Perdomo was good at hitting when it mattered last season.  In 99 ABs with runners in scoring position a season ago, Perdomo hit at a .283 clip and knocked in 38 runs.

The potential has always been there for Perdomo as he is still only 23, but now it is time to see it put into action at the big-league level.  Look for this youngster to get that OPS up to the .700 mark this season...

Diamondbacks 5th starter Ryne Nelson

I am excited to watch Nelson pitch, are you?  In Nelson’s short end-of-the-year stint with Arizona last season, he pitched 18.1 innings and recorded a 1.47 ERA along with a 0.82 WHIP.  In 20 spring training innings this year, his ERA was a little high (5.85) but he showed his strikeout potential with an 8.10 K/9 ratio.

Nelson earned the 5th spot over Drey Jameson, who now resides in the Arizona bullpen.  Nelson has a devastating 4-seam fastball that sits around 95 MPH.  Last season, batters were hitting .111 against it and it recorded a -5 run value.  This is the pitch he will lean on but if he wants to be effective, he will have to learn how to mix in his slider and curveball more often.  I envision Nelson ending the season with an ERA under 4, which for a 5th starter in the rotation, that would be golden…